Saltwell 10 Road Race Runners Co-Navigate Newcastle Financial Advisers

Supporting local events is something we love to do at Co-Navigate. It’s all part of our mission to give! Whether it’s giving something back to our community or giving advice to clients so they realise their goals and dreams.

There is no doubt that this year has been very strange for us all. Events and plans have had to be put on hold across the UK. But looking forward is also part of our ethos! With that in mind, we are delighted to announce that we are sponsoring two local causes within our community.

First of all, we are sponsoring the Whickham Fellside Youth Football Club’s Under 10 Girls team. This is their inaugural year in the Russell Foster League, and we wish them the very best of luck. We all love footy at Co-Navigate and are keen to promote the growing interest in the girls’ game.

As well as football, some members of the team love running. In fact, our Director and Mortgage & Protection Adviser, Lyndsey, runs with and is a coach at Saltwell Harriers.

So we are delighted to announce that we are sponsoring next year’s Saltwell 10K Road Race.

As England’s oldest road race, the three-lap race around Saltwell Park is a traffic-free route that ends at the Lake. This year’s race has been cancelled, sadly, but we are excited to be involved again next year.

We will keep you up to date about when the 2021 Saltwell 10K Road Race is taking place. Until then, please visit the website saltwellharriers.org.uk for the latest news.

Lyndsey Stephenson Mortgage Adviser Co-Navigate Newcastle

In our last blog, we met Andy Mathers. Now, we introduce our Mortgage & Protection Adviser, Lyndsey, and discover how helping her Dad as a teenager helped her put her foot on the career ladder of financial services…

Name

Lyndsey Stephenson

What is your position at Co-Navigate?

Mortgage & Protection Adviser and Director

Why did you choose a career in financial services?

My Dad was a Financial Adviser and I grew up knowing finance as a natural part of life. I started at a young age helping out my dad in his business with basic office tasks, etc.  I then went on to help a few other financial advisers in their businesses. By going into a shared office from my teenage years and doing admin tasks for pocket money, such as filing and shredding, I got to know about what goes on behind the scenes in finance. When I went to college, I started working for another adviser as his main administrator part-time. I got used to chasing mortgages and speaking to advisers and everything that goes on, basically everything except advising. Leaving University, it seemed an obvious choice to go into financial services as I already had the background and experience.  

What is your experience?

I became an adviser in 2004 and ultimately, I’d say 5 or 6 years prior to that I was working in the field doing admin work.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The best thing for me is I get to be part of a really important part of people’s lives – their home.  I get to help people move into their dream home and that’s a really powerful thing to be part of. The fun bit is helping people get to where they want to be.  And I get to meet such lovely people every day. 

What key advice would you offer to a potential client to Co-Navigate?

Look at everything with an open mind. A lot of people have a pre-conceived idea about what a financial adviser is or should be. At Co-Navigate, we’re very different to other financial advisers; we want to build relationships with people and help them get to where they want to be rather than being transaction focused.

Favourite colour

Navy blue.

Favourite music

I’m a big fan of 80s music and could listen to it all day long. And I also like 90s pop and rock when I am running. I’m a big fan of easy listening at the weekend.

Hobbies and interests

I am a big fan of keeping fit. My husband is a qualified fitness instructor, so exercise is a big thing for us as a family. I do a lot of running, circuit training and cycling. I love spending time with family and friends, and I have really missed it during lockdown.

Andy Mathers Co-Navigate Director and Financial Planner

As part of a new series, we are introducing the people behind Co-Navigate. You may have already met the Co-Navigate family on our ‘Meet the Team’ page. But what makes them tick? And how did they move into a career in financial planning?

First of all, we meet Andy Mathers…

Name

Andy Mathers

What is your position at Co-Navigate?

Financial Planner, Co-owner and Director

Why did you choose a career in financial services?

I pretty much fell into the career. I did my degree in economics and worked for two years at a church. During that time, I was buying my first house and when I spoke to someone at the youth group he asked if I wanted to speak to his dad, who was a mortgage adviser. I went to see him and six hours later he offered me a job! I shadowed him for two weeks and as I have a geeky mathematical brain and it’s a people-related job with maths thrown in, I absolutely loved it. That was 22 years ago!

What is your experience?

Initially, I was a general adviser, working with mortgages, investments and pensions. In the past 10 years I have focused on investment and pensions. Pretty much all my clients are medical professionals, that is my speciality now.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The key bit is helping people make the most of their finances and make good decisions. People worry about talking about money and the future. What we hopefully do is give them a sense that they are in control of their finances and make wise, educated decisions, such as, ‘Can I afford to retire a year earlier?’ It gives people the sense of freedom as some people feel guilty about spending money. But when it’s planned and you can afford it, it frees you to enjoy your money guilt-free. It’s not just financial, it’s life planning to help people make good choices.

What key advice would you offer to a potential client to Co-Navigate?

Don’t bury your head in the sand! A problem shared helps deal with it in a very positive way and you don’t feel worried about it. Talk to us about your financial planning. We help people understand what their finances look like and help look forward in a positive way. Our clients have real certainty for the future, which helps people make good decisions rather than fear or worry about it.

Favourite colour

Blue.

Favourite music

I don’t really get chance to listen to music as we have 3 daughters. When we get in the car I don’t get chance to choose as it’s usually Tik Tok at the moment. My life has been ruined by Tik Tok! I do love jazz to relax to.

Hobbies and interests

Faith is really important to me – I’m actively involved in our local church. And I love hockey. When we’re not in lockdown I am playing hockey 6 hours a week. That’s 4 hours of practice and 2 hours of playing.

First-time buyer couple in their new home

If you are a first-time buyer, you may hear all kinds of ‘facts’ about buying your first home and obtaining a mortgage. But many of these facts are simply not true!

Getting your foot on to the property ladder is difficult enough without having to work out the financial and legal aspects for yourself. So, to help first-time buyers sort fact from fiction, we have chosen to discuss 5 of the biggest myths around mortgages and house buying.

First-time buyer myths

Myth 1: You need a big deposit

It is true to say that if you have a larger deposit you may have a wider choice of mortgages at potentially more favourable rates. It doesn’t mean you always need a big deposit, however. The coronavirus slowdown has led to some providers withdrawing mortgages that require a 5 or 10% deposit; these are known as 95% and 90% loan to value (LTV) mortgages.

Others, however, have retained their 90% LTV mortgages. This is where using an independent mortgage broker, such as Co-Navigate, is ideal because we access mortgages that individual house buyers and banks often can’t. If you have a lower deposit and can’t find a mortgage, speak to one of our experienced team members.

Myth 2: I must use the estate agent’s mortgage adviser

Estate agents and house builders often refer you to a mortgage adviser within their office. Some will tell you that it is compulsory to use their in-house adviser – that is simply not true!

You are free to use any mortgage adviser, bank or building society of your choosing. If you find your ideal house, tell the estate agent or house builder you are using your own adviser. 

The same goes for conveyancers or solicitors. You can use your own and do not have to instruct those used by the estate agent or house builder.

Myth 3: I can only get a mortgage through my bank

Banks and building societies provide mortgages – but they are not alone. Other financial institutions offer mortgages, although you often need an independent adviser to access the specialist providers.

Banks can only use their own mortgage products, whereas an independent adviser has access to many more. Even comparison websites cannot access all the products on the market. And independent brokers like us can often access better rates on mortgages than those tied to one provider.

Make sure you talk to an independent mortgage broker before you go house-hunting!

Myth 4: I do not need a mortgage until I find my dream home

If you wait until you find your dream home before considering your mortgage, it can end up as a nightmare. Unless you have checked what you can afford, your ideal house could be beyond your budget. 

Once you start considering buying your first home, it is advisable to speak to a mortgage broker or provider to find out how much you will be allowed to borrow and more importantly what is within your monthly budget.

Following the application process, if appropriate, we will ensure you receive an ‘agreement in principle’ (AIP). You often need to prove to the estate agent or house builder that you are in a position to buy and the AIP does just that. Please note that the AIP isn’t a mortgage offer. We can explain more about the AIP at a discovery meeting.

Myth 5: You only need a deposit and mortgage to buy a home

There’s more to buying a house than arranging a mortgage and having enough for a deposit. You need to remember that there are many costs included in buying a house.

Fees and expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Survey costs
  • Mortgage arrangement and valuation costs
  • Solicitors fees
  • Removal costs
  • Buildings insurance
  • Stamp duty (your individual circumstances dictate what this may be)

If you are looking for your first home, remember that you must budget for these additional fees. This is something that we like to help you prepare at our first meeting, so you know what you can truly afford.

When you are ready to start searching your first home, contact us so we can help you find the best mortgage deal for you and be there to make the process as easy and as stress free as possible.

Couple remortgaging for captial to build house extension

Remortgaging is not only something to consider when your current mortgage term is coming to an end (to prevent reverting to Standard Variable Rate), it can also be a very useful way to raise capital.

Using equity tied up in your home can pay for improvements to your house – whether that is an extension, a loft conversion or for adding a home office. The coronavirus lockdown has meant millions of people experienced WFH (working from home), and many have discovered their homes fail to offer adequate space.

According to ONS figures, 20 million people relocated to their home to work during the pandemic. That is almost 10 times the number that normally do. A survey also reports that 45% of people believe they will work from home more often when the lockdown ends.

Building an extension for a purpose-built home office could be high on your list of priorities as a result. Maybe you feel an extra room for your little ones is going to be necessary after being in the same space with your family for 12 weeks or more.

So, releasing equity by remortgaging could give you the cash you need to fund those plans. And it is likely to be cheaper than searching for a new house!

What is equity?

When you take out a mortgage on your home, the company providing it owns a large percentage of your property. For example, first-time buyers who take out a mortgage with 90% loan-to-value (LTV) effectively own 10% ‘equity’ in the property.

Over time you increase the amount of the property you own as you pay your mortgage. In our example, the buyers’ LTV may be around 88% a year later, so their equity rises and becomes 12%.

This is not the only way to increase the value of your equity, it rises if the property’s value goes up. This means any equity you have can be released to pay for home improvements, but terms and conditions and lending limits apply.

How remortgaging for capital works

If your property was worth £250,000 and you took out a repayment mortgage of £200,000 five years ago, the amount you owe will have fallen. Let’s say for example it is now at £180,000. If the property’s value has also increased to £300,000, it means the equity you own has increased from £50,000 when purchased to £120,000 today.

If you were simply remortgaging at the end of your current deal, your mortgage would be for £180,000. The loan-to-value would now be 60%, a significant fall from the 80% LTV you originally borrowed.

But you could, assuming you have the income to support it, remortgage for a larger amount and release some equity to spend on your home office or house extension. In our example, we may remortgage for £200,000, releasing £20,000 to spend.

Beware early repayment charges

If you remortgage during the initial fixed or tracker period of your mortgage you are likely to incur an early repayment charge. This would then reduce the amount of equity you can release. If your initial mortgage period has ended and you have moved over to the lender’s standard variable rate, you are unlikely to face an early repayment charge.

The best thing to do before changing is to contact our mortgage experts. Our independent mortgage advisers have access to more mortgage deals than the high street or via comparison sites. We have helped many people in the North East and beyond release equity for home improvements and other reasons when it is right for them.

If you are interested in finding out more, you can contact our mortgage team by emailing enquiries@co-navigate.co.uk

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up the repayments on your mortgage

Why we are planning to launch a project about teaching children about the value of money

Would you consider teaching your children the value of money? If you answered ‘yes’ it seems that you are not alone.

Getting to grips with maths is important, but many people say they would have preferred to have learned about handling money at school than the intricacies algebra. At Co-Navigate we’re passionate about showing people how planning their finances can help them reach their life goals.

But just imagine if that happened to you when you were younger. Setting up your first home would probably have been a easier if you had learned about budgeting at school. 

The earlier you look at your life goals and start planning, the easier it is to achieve them because of the extra time you have. So teaching children and teenagers about the value of money would be useful, we think.

Money Masterclass poll

It is why we decided to ask our social media followers what they thought of the idea of Co-Navigate designing Money Masterclasses for young people. And the resounding answer was that they thought it was an excellent idea. A poll showed that 90% of our followers would be interested in Money Masterclasses! 

The inspiration behind it followed a video chat we had a couple of weeks ago about an article that one of the team had seen in the FT. It was a personal feature about how lockdown had given a parent the perfect opportunity to teach their children about money.

It may not sound very exciting but if you make it interesting then it can be quite exciting.

Children and the value of money

The writer talked about the importance of pocket money and household budgeting. It included showing children modern ways of paying pocket money, such as via the contactless card for children, GoHenry. Board games such as Monopoly also featured as a great way to teach children about valuing money.

Of course, savings were also discussed, such as Junior ISAs, to illustrate to children the importance of saving.

As the feedback from our poll was incredibly positive, we’re now working on plans for Co-Navigate Money Masterclasses. Please bear with us! As well as running the business, a number of us are also juggling homeschooling. But we do plan to look at the idea over the next few weeks.

If you would like us to keep in touch with you about Money Masterclasses, then please sign up to our mailing list. We don’t sell or pass on your details, nor do we bombard you with emails! We’ll just let you know when Money Masterclasses are rolled out.

Couple looking at online house searches

Last week, online property portal Rightmove reported that new data shows online house searches have returned to pre-Covid-19 levels.

Specialist mortgage software firm Twenty7Tec said it saw searches for new mortgages overtaking remortgages for the first time since lockdown began.

It is an encouraging sign that online house searches have been so high during such a time of uncertainty.

While no one is expecting things to get back to full strength for some time, lockdown appears to have done little to dampen buyers’ eagerness to continue with their housing plans.

This will eventually help fuel a return to a vibrant mortgage market sometime in the future. It is essential for those needing higher loan to value (LTV) mortgages, such as first-time buyers.

High LTV mortgages

We are starting to see the return of 90% loan to value mortgages (where you need a deposit of 10%). These are essential because a buoyant first-time buyers’ market largely governs the health of the rest of the property market.

It is understandable that the majority of lenders decided to pause these products during the early days of lockdown. With valuations put on hold and wider uncertainty, lenders had to use caution and this vigilant approach will continue as they assess what impact the lockdown has had.

Many buyers will now be in a very different financial position and will also need time to reassess the situation. A number of lenders are reintroducing high LTV mortgages, which appears to be a positive step.

Seek advice

As ever, if you are searching for a new mortgage, regardless of your available deposit, it is worth taking advice.

While mortgage comparison sites seem like a good way to find a lot of deals, they are limited in their offering and do not cover the criteria that may need to be considered.

Also, now more than ever is the time to seek advice due to the criteria changes across the market.

Our advisers have many years of house-buying and mortgage knowledge that they can share with you. This is essential whether you are a first-time buyer, new to moving up the property ladder or looking to remortgage in order to secure a better deal.

Couple plan finances for tough times

As the coronavirus lockdown continues, how are you managing with your finances in these tough times?

Many people are facing a few weeks, potentially months, where income may fall due to being furloughed or having their hours/wages cut.

At the same time, investments are reacting to stock market volatility while savings attract little interest.

With finances, the answer is always preparation. Having a plan in place that considers all kinds of scenarios is one of the foundations for financial planning at Co-Navigate, including tough times.

Even if the worst happens, by having something in place you won’t worry as much because you’ve already considered the situation and will have a plan.

Your task list

  • Finding savings in your budget
  • Making some cash if your hours are reduced
  • Protecting your credit score
  • Prioritising your bills if you can’t cover everything
  • Thinking through your next move if you lose your job

Look at your spending

Having a budget means you are aware of where your money is going so you can adjust it when needed.

During times of regular, uninterrupted employment it can be easy not to think about budgeting, but if you can work on your budget now, you’ll be better prepared for most eventualities.

If you’re unsure about what should be included in your budget check out an online planner like this one from the government’s Money Advice Service.

Once you’ve worked out where your cash is going you can spot spending that can be trimmed or removed. If you can save some money you can build up an emergency fund.

You don’t need a lot for an emergency fund, although we do advocate trying to save at least 3 months’ income to see you through the tough times.

Make some extra cash

This suggestion isn’t as crazy as it seems. Have you got a hobby you can make money out of? After all, this is how most successful businesses get started.

If you’ve got the materials and can make something that you can sell online, then that could bring in a bit of extra cash.

How about your current job? Can you turn your knowledge into an online course that will help others develop their skills?

Teachable allows you to set up everything you need for just over £30 a month. It could be a good investment if you can attract 5 people who pay £30 for your course. Not only will you cover the cost you will add a little bit extra to your income.

Protect your credit score

Be careful with credit cards during the lockdown. Retail therapy online might give you some pleasure but don’t allow it to cost you your future.

If you’re used to paying off your balance each month, don’t worry about having a little bit on your card. Make sure you don’t exceed your limit and if you need extra time to pay contact your card issuer as they may give you leeway during the Coronavirus.

You could switch your card to one offering 0% on balance transfers for a year or two, which would make your money go further. But beware think about credit checks and remember that having multiple credit checks can impact your credit score/rating.

Safeguarding your credit score is essential because having access to credit can help you navigate through unforeseen tough times.

Prioritise your bills

When you have a reduced cash flow unexpectedly, bills you’d normally pay without hassle may be more difficult to manage.

Look at your survival at first in these cases. You need to cover your food, home and utility costs first. After you meet those costs, you can then prioritise other bills.

Business owners are used to speaking to creditors to reassure if they hit a rough patch to extend terms. Try this in your personal finances too. If you deal with it head-on it’s better than receiving a letter and problems later.

Think through your next move

Industries that would normally get by in a normal recession could be hit badly through the coronavirus crisis. As a result, no profession is safe from job losses, sadly.

If you’re fearing for your job or business, don’t panic! If you have a game plan in place you won’t end up with brain fog should the worst happen.

For business owners there is lots of support around to try and help you through this difficult period. You can find more help here https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support

If you’re employed but on furlough, update your CV during lockdown and use online networking, such as LinkedIn, to catch up and create new connections. Who knows where it might lead?

Our ethos at Co-Navigate is try not to panic. Our financial plans build in worst-case scenarios so that you always have a back-up plan and financial security.

We would urge you to do the same! During lockdown spend the extra time at home to plan for the unexpected… then it won’t be quite as unexpected, and you’ll feel more in control.

If you’re still concerned during these tough times, why not get in touch?

We will get through it together

We’re in the midst of a Health War. A unique war, with every country in the world united in an effort to beat the same enemy. A silent, invisible, deadly enemy.
It’s encouraging that China has curtailed the virus with very few new cases. This is a crisis that no one alive has faced, certainly not at this scale, but we will get through it.

A Story of Two Frogs

Two frogs fell into a milk bowl that they were dancing on top of. Both swim around but soon realise the edge of the bowl is too high for them to ever get out.

Frog One panics and thrashes about saying “we’ll never get out, we’ll never get out!” until the frog drowns.

Frog Two thinks “I must keep calm, there must be a solution.” The frog slowly swims round and round thinking for hours, until the frog notices that the milk has turned into a pat of butter. This allows the frog to jump out.

Crisis doesn’t create character, it reveals it

Through this Health War people will suffer, be it losing a loved one, facing a business closure, a loss of earnings, and major disruption to their lives and jobs. From a financial perspective I think our order of concern should be:

1. Personal liquidity. Will I have enough money to see me and my family through and will my business/job/career survive? What immediate actions do I need to take and take now?
2. Invested capital. Your investments/pensions etc. These are invested in a historically appropriate portfolio designed with these events in mind, so if you have no reason to sell for personal liquidity reasons, the action to take is to ‘do nothing’. As counterintuitive as it sounds it is for most the correct cause of action. I’ve personally felt every drop of the market declines.
3. The wider economy. It usually reacts later than the stock market. It’s clear we’re effectively in a recession even though it’s not ‘official’ yet. Recessions are part of the business cycle, painful but nothing unexpected.

Your Faith In Our Future

At this critical juncture your decision is binary (one or the other).

1. You believe we will see this health crisis off and humanity will get back to where we were, or
2. You believe we will not get through this.

If your answer was dictated by the headlines you may think the latter, if it was dictated by history you would be all in on the former, as I am.

The two emotions that collide here are fear vs faith in the future. Personally, I’m not betting against humanity. It’s a powerful force.

The investment decisions you make in the near future will impact the rest of your life. The stock market is there to test you. The current crisis may be the greatest test you’ve faced.

Remember, the stock market is a collection of the greatest businesses on the planet. We regularly lose a few businesses but human ingenuity also means we gain new ones. Capitalism is a success story.

Looking at the prices of the stock market day by day will fill you with anxiety. The less you look the better you’ll do, but more importantly the better you’ll feel. If you’re looking at your portfolio daily, you’re not a long term investor, you’re a short term trader.

Money is like a bar of soap, the less you touch it, the more you’ll have.

You haven’t checked the price of your house day by day because you can’t. If you could, the price of it would be considerably less than the figure you have in your head. However, as you’re not selling your house, the price is irrelevant, you still own the same number of bricks.

The same is true with your investment portfolio. The prices have changed but you still own the same number of units. When the story changes, the prices will change and believe me the story will change.

After darkness there is always light

Studying previous global stock market crashes (temporary declines) it’s a recurring theme that when the story and noise are at its peak, things are usually about to change.

Staying disciplined during a time like this can feel like you have your hand on a burning stove when all you want to do is pull it off. Beware of the person who claims to know when this will end.

As Nick Murray says:
A permanent loss in a globally well-diversified equity portfolio is a human achievement of which the market is incapable.

A reminder of the successful investing traits:

• Have a diversified equity (stock market) and bond (lending to governments and businesses) portfolio which is the funding vehicle of your financial plan, which lists your most cherished life goals and transitions.
• Act with equanimity (doing nothing) through all markets cycles. The cycles are driven by fear and greed. Let’s not compound the issues we’re facing by committing an investment mistake, we have enough to contend with through the lifestyle disruption and beating this invisible enemy.
• With the extra free time at home please don’t stress too much about your portfolio, leave that to us. If you can get through this market period without committing the gravest of investing mistakes, which is selling low in a declining market, you’ll likely not encounter such extreme conditions again. We obviously can’t guarantee this, but it’s a hunch.

Being your Financial Adviser means the world to us, we’re here for anything, just call.

Stay safe, stay connected, stay sane, your loved ones need you.

Be like Frog Two.

Jamie, Andy & The Co-Navigate Team
With kind permission from Andy Hart

Worried young woman checks mortgage payment

In these unprecedented times, there are a lot of questions around what the Government has announced as ‘mortgage relief for homeowners’, writes Lyndsey. Hopefully, the points below will help offer some clarification of the finer details.

Many lenders are now offering support to those who are impacted by Coronavirus by agreeing a mortgage payment holiday for up to three months.

Residential mortgages

Lenders will check if your payments are up to date, you’re not in arrears and can confirm that you’ve been affected – directly or indirectly – by Coronavirus.

Buy to Let (BTL) mortgages

Again, you need your payments up to date and your account to not be in arrears and to be able to confirm that you’ve been affected – directly or indirectly – by Coronavirus. But the big change here is that a payment holiday will only be given if you confirm your tenant is having difficulty in paying their rent due to Coronavirus.

Other things to consider

If you decide to go ahead and request a payment holiday, the maximum time period allowed (under these conditions) is three months. The interest will accrue during the holiday period, and you’ll need to make up deferred payments in the future (this could be at the end of your mortgage term or by making overpayments in the future).

As we are led to believe, this will not affect your credit rating, but please check with your individual lenders.

You may not need to take this option and if you are still able to make payments now. I would continue to do so as you may need this option to be available to you in the future.

Our advisers are all here to advise and help clients through these difficult times as we are still operating at full capacity.